Vegan Date Caramel Carmelita Bars

Vegan Date Caramel Carmelitas
Vegan Date Caramel Carmelitas

I’m from the Midwest, you know, land of “hot dish” (casserole), and cookie bars. Yet, somehow I never had carmelitas until my sister-in-law made them when visiting over a year ago. I have only had them that one time, yet they stuck in my brain. This very comforting combination of caramel, chocolate, and almost and oatmeal cookie crust. I attempted one other time to make them vegan and failed miserably. I didn’t try again until recently, after I had found date caramel . This version of carmelitas are vegan, and much lower sugar than your average bar. They are still sweet, very sweet. In fact they are perfect for breakfast dessert with a cup of coffee. mmm, or mid-afternoon snack with a cup of coffee, Be right back…

 Ingredients

For the Oat Base and Crumble

  • 3/4 cup butter or margarine, melted (I used Earth Balance)
  • 1/2 cup packed coconut sugar (or brown sugar if that’s what you have)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole-rolled old fashioned oats (not instant or quick cook)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

For the Date Caramel

  • 8 oz pitted medjool dates (about 2 cups)
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup water that the dates were soaking in
  • 1 TBL bourbon (or more date water)
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • 3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips or chunks (vegan if that’s your jam)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease an 8×8-inch pan and set aside.
  2. Cover dates with boiling water in a heat proof bowl or measuring cup and set aside for 10 minutes.
  3. Combine the melted “butter”, coconut sugar, and vanilla whisking until smooth.
  4. Add the flour, oats, baking soda, and stir until combined.
  5. Add roughly half of the mixture to the prepared pan and smooth it to form an even layer.
  6. Bake for 10 minutes. While it bakes make the date caramel.
  7. 7.Combine the soaked dates, coconut milk, soaking water, vanilla, and salt in a food processor and blend until smooth. This will take a few minutes and you will have to stop and scrape the sides a few times.
  8. After the oat base has cooked for 10 minutes remove it from the oven and dollop the date caramel over the base. Smooth with a spoon or spatula to form one even layer. This is delicate work.
  9. Sprinkle the chocolate chips over the date caramel in an even layer.
  10. Evenly crumble reserved oatmeal-sugar mixture over the top.
  11. Return pan to oven and bake for about 15 to 18 minutes, or until edges are lightly browned and center appears to be set.
  12. Allow bars to cool for a few hours in the pan before slicing and serving.
  13. These are best stored in the refrigerator and are delightful cold or at room temperature.
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Vegan Aquafaba Chocolate Mousse that is lighter than air

Vegan Aquafaba Chocolate Mousse
Vegan Aquafaba Chocolate Mousse

I’m in a very celebratory mood. Thanksgiving has just finished, my daughter’s first birthday was Thursday, and Christmas and New Years are right around the corner. The celebration and the holidays mean food and family to me. I am ever so lucky to be home in Wisconsin with my family right now. We get to do a birthday celebration, and a second Thanksgiving. I also get to be around people who love food as much as I do!! My mom, my little brother, my dad (though he doesn’t really cook), and my best friend from forever (she drove five hours with two small children to come see me for a few days, that’s love!) So this week I’ll get to talk about food, eat food, and celebrate with some of my favorite people. I’m very happy to be home.

To get these celebrations off on the right track I’m sharing my first aquafaba recipe. Aquafaba is simply the juice you drain from a can of garbonzo or white beans, or the cooking liquid if you make your own. You know, the stuff you usually pour down the drain. Well, if you save it, and whip it, the texture is exactly that of whipped egg whites. It’s an amazing trick. This chocolate mousse it lighter than air, it simply melts on your tongue, is richly, deeply, chocolate, and well, pretty amazing. This is a great recipe to start with for aquafaba as it is super simple, and the texture will blow your mind. For more information on aquafaba, and other ideas visit the official aquafaba website.

 Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, or chopped chocolate
  • 2 TBL non-dairy milk
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • dash of salt
  • 1/2 cup aquafaba (the liquid drained from a can of from white or garbanzo beans)

Instructions

  1. Mix the chocolate chips, milk, vanilla, and salt in a small metal or glass bowl.
  2. Place the bowl over a pot of boiling water and stir until the chocolate is just melted.
  3. Remove the bowl from the pan, and set aside to cool to room temperature.
  4. Meanwhile whip the aquafaba with an electric mixer on high speed until stiff peaks form 5-10 minutes. It will look like whipped egg whites.
  5. Once the chocolate has cooled to room temperature gently fold it into the whipped aquafaba until the mousse is a uniform color.
  6. Set the mousse in the refrigerator and allow to cool. You can eat it right away, but I like it pretty well chilled. Overnight is great and it will last a few days.

 

Mom’s Apple Pie (vegan)

Vegan Apple Pie
Vegan Apple Pie

My mom’s apple pie. I really don’t know if there is anything better. I think this apple pie is my second favorite dessert, with chocolate cake coming in first. It might actually be my favorite since it is also good for breakfast and snacks, not just dessert. I like them so much I had my mom make pies for my wedding. She made 12 amazing pies that everyone talked about for weeks after the event.

As much as I love this pie, I don’t really love all apple pie, just  my mom’s. Most lack flavor, have a poor crust, are too sweet, or are just boring. This pie is perfect. The apples are just a little tart and hold their shape while swimming in a perfectly sweet sauce that just holds everything together. It is fragrant with cinnamon, and the crust is flaky with a hint of salt and simply melts in your mouth. The smell as it bakes smells like everything a home should be; warm, sweet, spicy, and welcoming.

I wanted to post this in time for Thanksgiving so you could have the perfect pie to impress you family. Just watch the video of my mom making the crust, and this one of her making the pie, and you are good as gold.

 Ingredients
  • Prepared pie crust (top and bottom crust, uncooked)
  • 6 apples cut into bite-sized chunks (mix of granny smith, cortland, gala, or whatever you like)
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 TBL all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 TBL earth balance buttery sticks

Instructions

  1. Place apple chunks in a large bowl.
  2. In a small bowl mix together the sugar, cinnamon, salt, and flour.
  3. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mixture over the apples and stir until the apples are well coated in the sugar mixture.
  4. Place the bottom crust in a large pie plate and pour the apple mixture into the crust (it should be overflowing).
  5. Dot the apples with small pieces of earth balance spaced evenly over the apples.
  6. Roll the top crust over the apples, rolling and crimping the edges.
  7. Cut steam vents in top crust.
  8. Place pie in pre-heated 425 degree oven for 15 minutes.
  9. Keeping the pie in the oven, reduce the heat to 350 and continue cooking until the crust is golden, and the juices are oozing out the steam vents, about 40-50 more minutes.
  10. Allow the pie to cool for at least a half hour before serving.